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Letter: City deserves to go for its Olympic gold.

The Institute of Public Policy Research report into the economic impact of the 2012 Olympic Games in London is a salutary reminder to politicians not to overplay the impact of luring such a prestigious event to this country.

Yes, it will be good to have the eyes of the world on the UK. Yes, London will benefit and other cities and regions too. But let's not get carried away by suggestions that the Olympics will provide some sort of panacea for employment and economic development, with huge benefits cascading out from London all the way to the West Midlands and beyond.

The IPPR report talks about better management of people's expectations, pointing out that the Games are likely to have a positive impact on the regeneration of the Lower Lea Valley in east London, but that job gains will be way below figures being bandied about by officials in the capital and the Government.

The report suggests about 47,000 jobs could be created in London and 8,000 elsewhere, which is a far cry from the somewhat nebulous 96,000 "person years of employment" forecast by the London Development Agency.

It is important to set the impact of the Games in context for Birmingham, where attempts are under way to persuade the Chinese team to base its training camp in the city. The IPPR report suggests the main benefits to flow from the Olympic Games will be social rather than economic by delivering a huge boost to civic pride across the UK, and that would certainly be the case if Birmingham was able to succeed in its Chinese venture.

With upwards of 2,000 athletes and officials in the team, the arrival of the Chinese would be the perfect opportunity for Birmingham to showcase itself to one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Long-term benefits in terms of establishing economic and social links with the Chinese authorities would be incalculable.

It is, therefore, a prize worth going for although there must also be a touch of realism about Birmingham's chances of succeeding. Much will surely depend on council plans to build a 50 metre swimming pool at Aston University, since the nearest alternative facilities are at Loughborough and Bath. It is difficult to envisage a major Games squad positioning itself in a city where there is no Olympic-size pool.

We wish the council well in wooing the Chinese, and hope for a successful outcome.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 20, 2006
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